What Counts as a Wrongful Death, and When Should You Sue?


When a family member passes away, it is a tragic event. Still, it is even more painful if that person dies because of someone being negligent, reckless, or even possibly the deliberate behavior of another. This could, in turn, leave the family members of the deceased entitled to file a wrongful death suit against the other person. The lawsuit could end up falling into the category of a civil case to determine what the amount of the damage is or what kind of compensation the family should receive due to the wrongful death. 

 So What Are the Grounds?

When you have a civil case, you need to have a supportable reason for filing the claim. Absent certain exceptions, to establish a wrongful death action, one needs to prove that someone lost their life due to the negligence of another person. The surviving family members often need to be able to prove two things during the lawsuit. First, they should be able to prove that the death was, in fact, due to the other party being a reckless, negligent, or deliberate act, and the death was not due to another cause. Secondly, the family members must be able to prove that they suffered damages due to the wrongful death of their family member. 

Who Can File?

Many states have different dictations of who can file a wrongful death suit. In all countries, surviving spouses and the children of the deceased can register, as well as extended family members, siblings, and grandparents can also file in some states. Make sure you are discussing this with a personal injury lawyer so they can discuss all the avenues that you may be able to take when filing the lawsuit.  

Collecting Damages

The surviving family members can collect a few types of different damages after they have determined that the death of their loved one was, in fact, due to a wrongful act. These entitlements are included but not limited to: 


  • Any outstanding medical bills that the deceased may have
  • Lost wages due to the death of their loved one that would have been earned had the deceased lived to their average life expectancy. 
  • Compensation for pain and suffering due to the absence
  • Punitive damages are intended to punish the person who caused the death.

Time Limitations

Each state has different statutes of limitations that state how long you have until you can no longer file a wrongful death lawsuit. Waiting too long could cause you to be unable to file the suit. If you feel that your loved one was the cause of a wrongful death, please contact our law firm to discuss the merits of your claim.